MSNBC was lambasted by critics Thursday for spreading misinformation about the omicron variant of the coronavirus, following a guest’s claim that unvaccinated young children were “likely” to get a “serious” case of the virus.
During a Wednesday appearance on “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Biden adviser on COVID-19 policy, discussed the potential for a coronavirus vaccine being approved for children under the age of five and implored parents to get their children vaccinated once it was available. He claimed otherwise they were “likely” to get a “serious” case of omicron.
Data, however, suggests that it’s highly unlikely children would contract a serious case of the virus. According to Reuters, one study showed that children were actually getting less sick from omicron than other variants. Children have also been far less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 throughout the pandemic than older age groups.
“This repeats what we’ve seen in older kids, five and above, where we know the vaccine does protect very well. And there we still have under 50%, I believe, of the children vaccinated, and that’s a serious problem for the country,” Emanuel told host Kristen Welker after she asked about the willingness of parents to get their kids vaccinated. “Parents have to be more willing – I think they hear some of these rare side effects and think they’re very common.”
“With the omicron variant, kids are either going to get the vaccine or they’re likely to get a serious condition of omicron. Having omicron with the vaccine is almost invariably going to be better and safer for children,” he added. “I am confused about parents’ attitudes. Five and above seems like a no-brainer. Two to five, I understand some hesitancy. Two and under with the small dose, I think probably a very good idea.”
Another recent study cited by economist Emily Oster also reiterated the extremely low risk young children face of severe COVID-19 outcomes. “What we can say is that based on everything we know, the risks to small children from COVID-19 are extremely small,” she wrote.
Critics took to social media to blast MSNBC and Emanuel, with some calling his claim about the possibility of a serious case of omicron “remotely untrue,” and others referring to it as “dangerous misinformation.”
“This is garbage [MSNBC]. Totally, 100%, indisputably untrue COVID misinformation,” wrote Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y, while Fox News contributor Joe Concha noted that there was no evidence children would likely contract a serious case of the virus if they weren’t vaccinated.
One critic called the claim “straight up fearmongering,” while another suggested media outlets were more lenient with COVID “hysteria” than they were skepticism about the virus.
Other critics suggested Emanuel was intentionally lying to the American people in order to scare parents into getting their children vaccinated.